Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tips for Surviving Halloween




Whether you are prepping kids for a night out or heading out to your own festivities, use these tips to keep your Halloween free from scary mishaps.

If your kids are trick or treating:


  • Add protective tape to costumes and/or candy bags for better visibility
  • Make sure you and/or your kid(s) are equipped with flashlights with new batteries
  • Use costume makeup instead of masks to avoid obstructed eyesight
  • Pin long costumes and wear comfortable shoes to avoid tripping
  • Ditch pointed accessories like swords and sticks
  • Accompany your kids out or arrange for them to join a group supervised by an adult
  • Carry a cell phone
  • Teach your kids how to safely cross the street and check for on-coming traffic
  • Only visit a home if the porch light is on; never enter a home or car to get a treat
  • Plan a route and stay together
  • Examine treats and toss out anything unwrapped 
      
 Also, do check into some of the great alternative Treat or Treat options!

  • Batty Battleship Halloween Bash - Trick or Treat aboard the Battleship North Carolina on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
  • Trick or Treat Under the Sea - The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, Oct 26-28, 4:30-8:30 pm
  • Annual Trick or Treat in the Park - Oct 27, 5 to 8 p.m., in Hampstead Kiwanis Park
  • Trunk or Treat events at various churches and neighborhood sites

No kids?


  • Slow down and drive carefully, and keep an eye out for children crossing the street
  • Properly restrain your pets
  • If you are handing out treats, clear your yard of any items visitors may trip on
  • Keep your home and walk-ways well lit
  • Replace jack-o-lantern candles with flameless candles or glow sticks

Have a safe – and Spooky – Halloween!


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The After-Florence Real Estate Market - What to Expect?



In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, what is the outlook for Wilmington real estate?        You might be surprised.


The heart-wrenching impact of Hurricane Florence on our community and on those who have lost so much will be felt for a long time.  But I've been awed watching neighbor helping neighbor, the dedication of first-responders, the generosity of volunteers, and so many actions that show the best of the human spirit.  Our community is resilient.

I believe there are good reasons the real estate market in Southeastern North Carolina will likewise show great resilience and come back stronger than ever.  Although we've been hard-hit, local real estate industry leaders are optimistic a turn-around will be quick.  Here are some of the reasons why they think this.

History tells us the slowdown will be short-lived

Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Irma in Florida in 2017 demonstrated that while real estate markets are initially hard hit by a significant hurricane, the slowdown is typically short-lived.
  -- For the 5 days before Harvey and the 5 days after, homes sales (NOT PRICES) dropped by almost 96 percent.
  -- The week after the storm, agents were touring homes and writing offers and calls from investors quadrupled. (We are already seeing that here.)
  -- The number of homes sold returned to pre-storm levels within 3 weeks, with homes prices holding steady.

Impact on property values

  -- With inventory already tight, undamaged properties will be in high demand and may shoot up in value.  
  -- A June 25 2018 Forbes article reports that hurricane damage actually causes housing prices to go up.  A 2010 Federal Reserve Bank study reported that the "typical hurricane strike raises house prices for a number of years, with a maximum effect of between 3 to 4% three years after occurrences."
  -- In Texas, two months after Hurricane Harvey, the Houston BizJournal reported that 31 neighborhoods saw an increase in median home prices.
  -- Rents will likely rise as displaced homeowners seek housing while their homes are being repaired.  (Unfortunately, in the short term there is a severe shortage of rental options for displaced homeowners, as described in a recent Wall Street Journal article.)

Opportunities in the crisis

As terrible as Hurricane Florence has been to our community, it will also create opportunities for the local real estate market.
  -- Buyers with badly damaged homes are eager to get into a new home and may pay a premium to do so.
  -- Unflooded homes will be in high demand and may sell at prices higher than pre-Florence.
  -- Investors see damaged homes as opportunities to repair or rebuild and then resell at a profit.
  -- Some damaged homes may be rebuilt higher and larger and may net a higher price than pre-Florence.

Continuing demand

Several long-term trends will continue to boost housing demand for Southeastern NC.
  -- growing economy
  -- strong labor market and low unemployment
  -- millennials coming of age to enter the housing market
  -- baby boomers living longer and more independently than previous generations

Demand will grow for hurricane resistant construction

Florence may discourage some from moving into hurricane-prone areas, but this is typically more than offset by a larger focus on new construction and more homes equipped to handle hurricane-force winds and flooding (by building up).

More buyers will be looking for hurricane-resistant features in a post-hurricane market, which means these features will add more value to the home.

The bottom line

There's good news ahead for sellers, investors, and buyers looking for more hurricane resistant homes that will build equity.   Finding rentals and affordable housing as prices rise will continue to be a struggle.

Monday, September 24, 2018

More Info: Surviving the Financial Storm after Florence

CPA Adam Shay provided the following excellent advice to help individuals and businesses survive the financial storm after Florence.    

CPA Adam Shay's website with additional info

The last week has been a whirlwind of physical and emotional challenges. Our Wilmington community is strong and we will come through this together. One of the less discussed aspects of the Florence so far is the post-storm financial impact on individuals and business owners. The storm’s impact to the local economy could prevent businesses and individuals from receiving regular income for a while. I have taken some time to compile a list of resources and suggestions that may be relevant to helping people weather the economic storm.
Business Loans
There are several disaster loan options available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other programs.  Some options are:
The Small Business Technology Development Center has a lot of relevant storm recovery loan related information on their website.
Insurance Claims
If your business was damaged, you may want to check if you have business interruption service (or something equivalent).  Whether it’s business or individual property damage, you will want to take time to assess your damage and report claims in a timely manner.  Realize that when it comes to claims, insurance companies want to pay out the minimum.  Stand up for yourself.  You may need some forensic accounting to demonstrate economic impact of the storm and aftermath.  You may also need to get an attorney involved, depending upon what is at stake with your claim.

Mortgage Relief
If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac you may be eligible to stop making payments for three to twelve months.    You can click these links to determine if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  If you do not have a mortgage owned by one of these entities, you may still be able to get some sort of deferment or relief from your lender.  Regardless of who owns your loan, call them and ask what they have available and if appropriate proceed to sign up for the appropriate program.

Repairs
Be careful of scammers during Hurricane cleanup. Make sure you are working with licensed, insured contractors. Don’t pay up front and pay with a credit card if possible. Try to use local providers when you can.
Price gouging is illegal in North Carolina.

Taxes
For those located in the federal declared disaster zone (as of this writing Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Lenoir, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, and Wayne counties), the IRS has extended the following items until January 31st, 2019:
  • S Corporation, C Corporation, Partnership, and Individual Income tax returns that were previously extended.
  • Quarterly estimated income tax payments due September 17th, 2018.
  • Quarterly payroll tax or excise tax returns due October 31st, 2018.
Penalties on late payroll taxes due between September 7, 2018 and September 24, 2018 will not be penalized as long as deposits are made by September 24, 2018.   North Carolina is making the same waivers except that they are still assessing interest on later quarterly estimated income tax payments.  Since we are in a federally declared disaster area, you may be able to claim damage or loss of property not covered by insurance on your income tax returns.

Unemployment (Even for Business Owners)
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available from the NC Division of Employment Security (NC ESC) for people in the following counties (as of the time of this writing): Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender.   You may be eligible for DUA if:
  • You are unemployed due to disaster.
  • Self-employed and lost income due to the disaster.
  • Injured due to disaster and unable to work.
  • You became a major income provider due to death from disaster.
  • You can’t reach their job or self-employed business due to travel affected by disaster.
  • You could not start employment during the disaster.
Frequently asked questions on DUA can be found here.  Note that from a timing perspective the NC ESC system will be down from 5PM September 24th through 8 AM Friday September 28th, so try to submit an initial claim starting then.

Adam Shay, CPA (N.C. License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC.  During the next couple of months we are offering free business roundtables for business owners to discuss things they are and could be doing to survive the economic impacts of Florence.  Anyone interested in learning more should email roundtables@adamshaycpa.com.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Assistance After Florence; Important Info!




FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO HOMEOWNERS WHO HAVE SUFFERED ANY LOSSES FROM HURRICANE FLORENCE

Hurricane Florence is a once-in-a-lifetime storm that has left many facing significant challenges as we begin the recovery process. Please rest assured you are not alone. One of the ways we can help is to make you aware of the wide variety of resources available to you and your family to help you get through this difficult time. If you have been impacted in any way, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask for help and take advantage of this assistance – your taxes make these programs available and they are meant to assist in times of crisis.

FEMA
·    File with FEMA and get your FEMA number ASAP! You will need it for everything. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners.
·       You can apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
·       You will  need to provide the following:
o   Social Security number, or the social security number of a child living at the house.
o   Annual household income.
o   Contact information, insurance information and bank account information (FEMA needs  bank account information so agency can directly deposit $$ into your account.)
·       Additional info:
o   Anyone who is denied will be notified and given a chance to appeal.
o   FEMA aid only is available for your primary residence — not vacation homes.
o   FEMA will not duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company, but you may receive assistance for items not covered by insurance.
o   Homeowners and renters can also apply for low-interest home repair loans from the Small Business Administration at https://disasterloan.sba.gov.  Owner of rental properties can also apply for repair loans through the SBA.

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
·       File for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). If you can't live in your house or go to work because your office is closed or flooded, this applies to you. The DUA program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who are unemployed as a direct result of a Presidentially declared major disaster. The state has declared that residents in Onslow, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties are approved for DUA. You must file an application for benefits by October 17, 2018.
·       DUA is funded entirely by the federal government. Individuals need to file first for regular unemployment insurance. If an individual is determined ineligible for regular unemployment insurance, or has exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits, a DUA claim can then be filed. Individuals will need their Social Security number, copies of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.
·       DUA is available beginning September 9, 2018, and may last for up to 26 weeks, as long as the claimant’s unemployment continues to be as a result of Hurricane Florence.
·       Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8AM to 5PM to apply for DUA benefits. If you have questions, you may email DES at des.dua@nccommerce.com or go to our website at des.nc.gov. For an updated list of counties that have been approved, please visit the News and Highlights section at des.nc.gov

SBA DISASTER LOANS
·       SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets.
·       You can apply online for all types of SBA disaster assistance loans. The online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about your loan eligibility. You have the option of submitting a paper application by mail. For either application, you must submit the completed loan application and a signed and dated IRS Form 4506-T giving permission for the IRS to provide SBA your tax return information.  You may also apply in person at any Disaster Recovery Center and receive personal, one-on-one help from an SBA representative. For information or to find a location near you, please contact our Customer Service Center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

DISASTER FOOD ASSISTANCE
·       File for DSNAP-Disaster food stamps. ANYONE in the affected areas can get them; they are not just for economically disadvantaged people. Do not be too proud to use this very important resource -- you can use the money you save on food to replace clothes and other necessities. The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. To get emergency SNAP benefits, go to your local DSS office. You will fill out the food stamps application (attached) and meet with a caseworker. If you are getting emergency SNAP benefits, DTA must give you SNAP benefits no later than seven days after they receive your application.
§                             Wilmington – 1650 Greenfield Street, Wilmington 28401
§                             Brunswick County – 60 Government Center Dr. NE, Bolivia 28422
§                             Pender County – 810 S Walker Street, Burgaw, NC 28425
    Onslow County – 612 College Street, Jacksonville, NC 28541

STATE AID TO REBUILD OR REPAIR YOUR HOME
·       The state of North Carolina can help with rebuilding or repairing your home. More information is available at rebuild.nc.gov. To apply, go to www.rebuild.nc.gov/apply. You will be required to provide the following:
·       A photo ID and proof of citizenship or legal residency (U.S. passport or green card).
·       Proof that you lived in the damaged home (like a utility bill from the same month the storm hit).
·       Copies of tax returns or pay stubs for all the adults who live in the home.
·     Copies of any payments from insurance companies or other government agencies for damage to the home.

FILING HOME INSURANCE CLAIMS
·       When the storm passes, insurance agents will be out in force to assist homeowners with filing their property insurance claims.

·       The N.C. Department of Insurance will also assist in processing claims and plans to set up Consumer Assistance Centers in shopping centers and other public places. The locations will be listed at www.ncdoi.com.
·       File a claim with BOTH your homeowner's and flood insurance. Even though it's a flood, homeowners will cover some wind damage and most of them will give you money for "loss of use" if you can't live in your house.

AMERICAN RED CROSS
·       American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Region - More than 1,500 Red Cross disaster workers have been deployed to assist with Hurricane Florence relief efforts.  Call 910-762-2683 to request assistance.

SALVATION ARMY
·       The Salvation Army’s national network of disaster staff and volunteers have been activated since Monday, September 10, to mobilize for storm preparation and response. Trained emergency disaster personnel are prepared to provide food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual support to survivors and first responders. 910-762-2070.

DELAY BILL DUE DATES
·       Call all of your bill collectors and notify them that you are in the affected area and/or that your house flooded. Most will delay your bill due dates for a month or two. This includes your mortgage company, cable, electricity, water, credit card companies, phone etc.

BE WARY OF SCAM ARTISTS
·       Be wary of sales reps who go door-to-door to solicit business.
·       Be sure the contractor you employ is insured and licensed; ask for proof of insurance.
·       Get all estimates in writing, including schedules and materials.
·       Don’t sign blank contracts and don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is completed.

ASK FOR HELP
·       Most importantly, allow people to help you! They want to and you need the help!



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Real estate thoughts for Grandparents Day


September 9 is National Grandparent’s Day. You’d pretty much figure that boils down to just honoring and spending time with your grandparents…maybe get them a gift, or take them out for dinner.
But, if you check out this Grandparent’s Day “action guide”, they’ve got loftier suggestions…
One of them is for grandparents to discuss financial stability with their grandchildren.
Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it’s not a bad suggestion at all. As a real estate agent, it brings this to mind…
Discussing what grandparents want (or even need) to do with their home as they get older.
It’s a touchy subject. Lots of memories and emotions are tied to their home, in so many different ways. It’s just an awkward subject for many families to get into, depending on the family dynamics.
But, it’s a topic worth touching upon. There are so many questions…
  • How long do they want to live at home?
  • What happens if they need assisted living, pass away, or can’t afford to stay?
  • Are they planning on selling their house? If not, what family member “gets” the house?
These are just a few of the touchy topics I see and hear people struggle with…often once it’s too late to discuss. Unfortunately, not discussing it can lead to poor decisions that hurt the grandparents, and even entire family, financially. And sometimes, real estate related issues become quite a fight within families as grandparents get older.
Obviously I hate seeing that happen.
So, as awkward or tough as it might be, try and have that chat at some point.
But, maybe not today.
For today, just enjoy each other’s company…

....  And, if you do find yourself having a chat along these lines, and need any real estate related thoughts from me, please just ask. I’m glad to help.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Renters for a Weekend or a While: What’s the Best Use of Your Investment Property?






The residential rental market is now the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. In the United States, the demand for single-family rentals, defined as either detached homes or townhouses, has risen 30 percent in the past three years.1 And in Canada, rental units now account for nearly one-third of the country’s homes, with particular demand for multi-family units, including apartments and condominiums.2

At the same time, the short-term, or vacation, rental market is also booming. The popularity of online marketplaces like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO has helped the short-term rental market become one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry.3

Now, more than ever, there is an abundance of opportunity for real estate investors. But which path is best: leasing your property to a long-term tenant, or renting your property to travelers on a short-term basis?

In this post, we examine the differences between the two investment strategies and the benefits and limitations of each category.


WHY INVEST IN A RENTAL PROPERTY? The Top 5 Reasons

Before we delve into the differences between long-term and short-term rentals, let’s answer the question: “Why invest in a rental property at all?”

There are five key reasons investors choose to real estate over other investment vehicles:

  1. Appreciation

Appreciation is the increase in your property’s value over time. And history has proven that over an extended period, the cost of real estate continues to rise. Recessions may still occur, but in the vast majority of markets, the value of real estate does grow over the long term.

  1. Cash Flow

One of the key benefits of investing in real estate is the ability to generate steady cash flow. Rental income can be used to pay the mortgage and taxes on your investment property, as well as regular maintenance and repairs. If appropriately priced in a solid rental market, there may even be a little extra cash each month to help with your living expenses or to grow your savings.

Even if you only take in enough rent to cover your expenses, a rental property purchase will pay for itself over time. As you pay down the mortgage every month with your rental income, your equity will continue to increase until you own the property free and clear … leaving you with residual cash flow for years to come.

  1. Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation is the rate at which the general cost of goods and services rises. That means as inflation rises, the money you have sitting in a savings account will buy less tomorrow than it will today. On the other hand, the price of real estate typically matches (or often exceeds) the rate of inflation. To hedge or guard yourself against inflation, real estate can be a smart investment choice.

  1. Leverage

    Leverage is the use of borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment. You can put a relatively small amount down on a property, finance the rest of the investment with a mortgage, and then profit on the entire combined value.

  2. Tax Benefits

    Don’t overlook the tax benefits that can come with a real estate investment, as well. From deductions to depreciation to exemptions, there are many ways a real estate investment can save you money on taxes. Consult a tax professional to discuss your particular circumstances.

These are just a few of the many perks of investing in real estate. (For more detailed information, visit our previous post: Why Real Estate Investing Makes (Dollars) and Sense (Oct 14 2017) But what’s the best strategy to maximize returns on your investment property? In the next section, we explore the differences between long-term and short-term rentals.


LONG-TERM (TRADITIONAL) RENTAL MARKET

When most people think of owning a rental property, they imagine buying a home and renting it out to tenants to use as their primary residence. Traditionally, investors would use their rental property to generate an additional stream of income while benefiting from the property’s long-term appreciation in value.

In fact, that steady and predictable monthly cash flow is one of the key advantages of owning a long-term rental. And as an owner, you don’t usually have to worry about paying the utility bills or furnishing the property—both of which are typically covered by the tenant. Add to this the fact that traditional tenants translate into less time and effort spent on day-to-day property management, and long-term rentals are an attractive option for many investors.

However, there are also limitations to long-term rentals, which often come down to your ability to control the property. Perhaps the most obvious one is that you do not get to use the home or closely monitor its upkeep (this is different from a short-term rental, which we’ll share in the next section).

In addition, while you can usually generate a steady, predictable income stream with a long-term rental, you are limited in your ability to adjust rent prices based on increasing or seasonal demand. Therefore, you may end up with a lower overall return on your investment. In fact, according to data from Mashvisor, in the 10 hottest real estate markets, short-term rentals produced “significantly higher rental income” than long-term rentals.4


SHORT-TERM (VACATION) RENTAL MARKET

Short-term rentals are often referred to as vacation rentals, as more and more travelers enjoy the benefits of staying in a home while on vacation. In fact, according to Wells Fargo, vacation rentals are steadily growing and predicted to account for 21% of the worldwide accommodations market by 2020.5

Investing in a short-term rental or funding your second-home purchase by renting it out can offer many benefits. If you purchase an investment property in a top travel destination or vacation spot, you can expect steady demand from travelers while taking advantage of any non-rented periods to enjoy the home yourself. In addition to greater control over how your property is used, you can also adjust your rental price around peak travel demand to maximize your returns.

But short-term rentals also have risks and drawbacks that may dissuade some investors. They require greater day-to-day property management, and owners are typically responsible for furnishing the property, upkeep, and utilities.

And while rental revenue can be higher, it can also be less predictable based on seasonal or consumer travel trends. For example, a lack of snowfall during ski season could mean fewer bookings and lower rental revenue that year.

In addition, laws and limitations on short-term rentals can vary by region. And in some areas, the regulations are in flux as residents and government officials adapt to a new surge in short-term rentals. So make sure you understand any existing or proposed restrictions on rentals in the area where you want to invest.
Urban centers or suburban communities may be more resistant to short-term renters, thus more likely to pass future limitations on use. To lower your risk, you may want to consider properties in resort communities that are accustomed to travelers. We can help you assess the current regulations on short-term rentals in our area. Or if you’re interested in investing in another market, we can refer you to a local agent who can help.   (This link will take you to the Wilmington NC goverment web page regarding short-term rentals:  WilmingtonNC Gov Short Term Rentals )

WHICH INVESTMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Now that you understand these two real estate investment options, how do you pick the right one for you? It’s helpful to start by clarifying your investment goals.

If your goal is to generate steady, predictable income with less time and effort spent on property management, then a long-term rental may be your best option. Also, if you prefer a less-risky investment with more reliable (but possibly lower) returns, then you may be more comfortable with a long-term rental.

On the other hand, if your goal is to purchase a vacation or second home that you’ll use, and you want to defray some (or all) of the expense, then a short-term rental may be a good option for you. Similarly, if you’re open to taking on more risk and revenue volatility for the possibility of greater investment returns, then a short-term rental may better suit your spirit as an investor.

But sometimes the decision isn’t always so clear-cut. If your goal is to purchase a future retirement home now to hedge against inflation, rising real estate prices, and interest rates, then both long- and short-term rentals could be suitable options. In this case, you’ll want to consider other factors like location, market demand, property type, and your risk tolerance.


HERE OR ELSEWHERE … WE CAN HELP

If you’re looking to make a real estate investment—whether it’s a primary residence, investment property, vacation home, or future retirement home—give us a call. We’ll help you determine the best course of action and share insights and resources to help you make an informed decision. And if your plans include buying outside of our area, we can refer you to a local agent who can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.


Sources:

Friday, July 6, 2018

How to Avoid the Top 8 Home Inspection Mistakes




It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your dream house, you’ll probably be anxious to move in. However, before you make a significant financial commitment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re buying.

When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers.

The inspector’s report will also list minor repairs that, if made, will help to maintain your home over the long term. Additionally, a good inspector can often predict the standard life expectancy of your roof, HVAC, and other big-ticket items so you can start planning for their eventual replacement.

However, many buyers make mistakes during the inspection process that cost them time and money and lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid these eight common buyer blunders to minimize your risk, protect your investment, and give yourself peace of mind and confidence in your new home purchase.


MISTAKE 1: Skip Your Own Inspection

Many buyers rely on their home inspector to point out issues with the property. However, by conducting your own visual assessment before you submit an offer, you can factor expected expenses into the offer price. Or, if you suspect major problems, you may choose to move on to a different property altogether.

Examine the walls and ceilings. Are there suspicious cracks, which could point to a foundation issue? Any discoloration? Yellow spots can indicate water damage, while black spots are typically mold. If there’s a basement, look for powdery white deposits along the walls and slab, which can result from water seepage.1

To assess the plumbing, start by turning on a bathroom sink or tub, then flushing the toilet. Check for a drop in water pressure or a gurgling sound coming from the pipes. You can also try running the water in sinks and tubs for several minutes to test for drainage issues. Peak underneath sinks to spot signs of leaks or drain pipes that go into the floor instead of the wall.1

Look for fogged or drafty windows, which may need replacing. Examine the roof for signs of cupped, curled, or cracked shingles. Check siding, decks, and other wooden structures for evidence of rot.

Overall, does the home appear to be well maintained? Unless it’s a highly-competitive seller’s market, consider the overall condition of the property BEFORE you submit an offer. Work with your real estate agent to factor in repairs and updates you know you’ll need to make when you determine your offer price.


MISTAKE 2: Hire the Cheapest Inspector

We all love to save money, but not all inspectors are created equal. Before you hire one, do a little research.2 You may even want to start shopping for an inspector before you complete your home search. Inspection periods are typically short, so it never hurts to be prepared.

You can start by asking around for recommendations. Check with friends and family members, as well as your real estate agent. Then contact at least two or three inspectors so you can compare not only price but also levels of experience and service.

Ask about their background, years of experience, and the number of inspections they have completed. Verify their certifications and credentials, and make sure they carry the proper insurance.

Find out what is (and what isn’t) covered in the inspection and if they utilize the latest technology. Ask to see a sample report so you can compare the style and level of detail provided. Finally, make sure you feel confident in the inspector’s abilities and comfortable asking him/her questions.


MISTAKE 3: Miss Attending the Inspection

Make every effort to be on-site during the inspection. Buyers who aren’t present during their inspection miss out on a great opportunity to gather valuable information about their new home.

If can attend the inspection, don’t spend all your time picking out paint colors or chatting with your new neighbors. Instead, use your time there to shadow the inspector. It’s the perfect chance to find out where everything is located, ask questions, and see first-hand what repairs and updates may be needed.3

Of course, if you do choose to tag along with your inspector, exercise good judgment. Don’t get in the way, become a distraction, or do anything to jeopardize your (or the inspector’s) safety.

If you can’t make it to the inspection, ask if you can schedule a time to meet in person or speak by phone to go over the report in detail. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions or request clarification about issues in the report you don’t fully understand.


MISTAKE 4: Skim Over the Report

Inspection reports can be long and tedious, and it can be tempting to skim over them. However, buyers who do this risk missing crucial information.

Instead, you should read over the report carefully, so you don’t miss anything significant. Now is the time to address any areas of concern. You have a limited window of time to request repairs or negotiate the selling price, so don’t squander it.

Your inspector may also flag some minor items that you wouldn’t typically expect a seller to fix. However, ignoring these small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure you read everything in the report so you can take future action if needed.


MISTAKE 5: Avoid Asking Questions

Some buyers are too embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report they don’t understand. Afraid they might look foolish, they avoid asking questions and end up uninformed about important issues that could impact their home purchase.

The reality is, questions are expected. You hired your inspector for their professional expertise, so don’t be shy about tapping into it. For example, you might ask:

      Would you get this issue fixed in your own home?
      How urgent is it?
      What could happen if I don’t fix it?
      Is this a simple issue I could fix myself?
      What type of professional should I call?
      Can you estimate how much it would cost to make this repair?
      How much longer would you expect this system/structure/appliance to last?
      What maintenance steps would you recommend?

Don’t bother asking your inspector if you should buy the property, because he/she won’t be able to answer that question for you. Instead, use the information provided to make an informed decision. A skilled real estate agent can help you determine the best path.


MISTAKE 6: Expect a Perfect Report

Some buyers get scared off by a lengthy inspection report. But with around 1600 items on an inspector’s checklist, you shouldn’t be surprised if yours uncover a large number of deficiencies.4 The key is to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require extensive (and costly) repairs.

Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price. Whatever you do, try to focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list. They will be more receptive if they perceive your requests to be reasonable.


MISTAKE 7: Forgo Additional Testing

There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist to evaluate a potential issue.5 For example, they may suggest testing for mold or consulting with a roofing expert.

Some buyers get spooked by the possibility of a “red flag” and decide to jump ship. Or, in their haste to close or desire to save money, they choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing altogether.

Don’t make these potentially costly mistakes. In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that takes minimal time to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide you with peace of mind or save you a fortune in future repairs.


MISTAKE 8: Skip Re-inspection of Repairs

Most buyers request receipts to prove that repairs have been correctly completed. However, it’s always prudent to go a step further and have negotiated repairs re-evaluated by your inspector or another qualified professional, even if there’s an additional charge.6

While the majority of sellers are forthcoming, some will try to save money by cutting corners, hiring unlicensed technicians, or doing the work themselves. A re-inspection will help ensure the repairs are completed properly now, so you aren’t paying to redo them later.

To avoid having to go back to the sellers, be specific when requesting repairs. Identify the problem, how repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.7

Some buyers prefer to avoid this step altogether by completing the work themselves. They either request that the seller fund the repairs or reduce the selling price accordingly. Whichever path you choose, protect yourself and your investment by ensuring the work is done properly.


WE CAN HELP

A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money over the long-term. But to maximize its effectiveness, it must be done properly. Avoid these eight common home inspection mistakes to safeguard your investment.

While these are some of the most common missteps, there are countless others that can trip up home buyers, cost them time and money, and cause undue stress. Fortunately, we have the skills and experience to help you avoid the potential pitfalls.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, we can help you navigate the inspection and all the other steps in the buying process … typically at no cost to you! Tap into our expertise to make the right decisions for your real estate purchase. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!


Sources: